A peaceful gathering of 150 supporters of Minerva Teichert, a notable female artist and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broke bread together and then marched to Provo’s City Hall on April 18.
The event was sponsored by the Paisley Shawl Revolution. It is a group of female LDS artists who use the Paisley shawl, and the history of the shawl as a comfort and piece of women’s history and culture.
Artist Andi Pitcher, one of the organizers of the event, noted that artists and residents gathered, having been asked to fast first, to break bread and to celebrate the history of Teichert art and the historic “Mormon” culture.
Rather than it being “an issue of controversy or friction,” it was intended as a “community gathering of believers and like-minded creatives with the same goal of preservation,” Pitcher said, but still an event in support of preservation efforts.
Dubbed “Take Up Thy Bread and Walk,” the event was in response to the church’s plan to remove Teichert murals from the Manti Temple during its renovation. Teichert painted the murals in 1947 to enhance ceremonies in the temple.
“It was also in remembrance of what was lost in the fire at the Tabernacle (Provo City Center Temple),” Pitcher said. The only copy of Teichert’s “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood” was destroyed in the fire, others singed badly.
The Paisley Revolution is described as the building of creating collectively, which all living communities must have in abundance to thrive and continue to create, Pitcher said.
Pitcher noted those gathered talked about the season of loss last year, showed gratitude and gathered in the name of preservation.
The rally comes following the announcement from the church that Teichert murals in the Manti Temple would be removed from the walls during the renovation and upgrade of the legacy temple.
In a recent statement from the church concerning the murals, it noted that the Teichert murals, which are valued not only for their beauty, but also as a treasured remembrance of faith, talent and dedication of the artist, will be preserved but not on the walls.
“The Teichert murals in the Manti Temple were originally painted on canvas, which was adhered to the plaster walls,” the church statement said.
“The church’s intent is to separate the canvas or portions of the canvas from the plaster and preserve the murals for future restoration and display in a public setting.”
The church is currently seeking the advice of international experts in the field of art preservation during this process.
“The addition of new instruction rooms, a new method of presentation, seismic strengthening, and changes to meet accessibility requirements meant that the murals in the temple would need to be moved and/or repainted,” according to a statement by the First Presidency. “It was impossible to know whether the murals could be preserved during such a move.”
The First Presidency consists of President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring.
These walls had been repaired and repainted many times because of water damage and other deterioration.
“Further, the change to a film presentation meant that the rooms would be reconfigured. For all these reasons, the murals were carefully photographed and documented before removal, and some of the original portions are being preserved in the Church’s archives,” the First Presidency statement said.
While the desire to keep as much as they can of the Teichert art, it appears many people are asking for the art and the live presentations to remain.
The Salt Lake Temple, which is under renovation, will also go from live presentations to film, and artwork will be missing from areas of the legacy temple when it is completed.
“When we remember our past, what we had in the tabernacle, it reminds us of what we have,” Pitcher said.
Those who attended the rally included active members of the church, post members, the Brigham Young University LGBTQIA organization and polygamists all coming together in a vibrant union, all threads in the Paisley shawl, according to Pitcher.
The levels of art and artist that gathered is much like the layers of an onion. Most of the ardent defenders and guardians of the temple are generally those who don’t regularly attend the temple, Pitcher said.
Teichert, a Mormon mother and cattle rancher who studied art in Chicago and New York and was one of President Heber J. Grant’s Depression-era artistic protégés, relentlessly pursued her personally defined mission to create distinctive art for meeting houses and temples, according to Pitcher.
“We must paint the great Mormon story of our pioneers,” Teichert noted in the eulogy she presented at the 1938 funeral of her mentor, Alice Merrill Horne. “We’ll tell our stories on the walls. … The religious art should be rich in story and backed by faith.”
The need to support the LDS culture and history is very important, Pitcher added. She said this is just the beginning of rallying to keep the Manti murals intact.